Home » Big Book of Leather Chapters » Accessories and Personal Items » Another Mindum Shoehorn or two

Another Mindum Shoehorn or two

I’ve just stumbled another couple of Mindum shoehorns, they have been in circulation for a few years so may not be new to you.

The first was sold by Christies in London, in 2005, number was Sale 5767. The angle shows an extreme amount of turn on the end, unlike any of the others I’ve seen.

Lot Description

The oxhorn with stained engraved decoration of a crowned rose and other motifs and date 1597 with inscription border reading THIS IS WILL’YAM S……..OF ROBART MINDVM, losses to rounded end, 5 3/8in. (13.5cm.)

Lot Notes

See Paula Hardwick, Discovering Horn, Lutterworth Press 1981, pp.62 for a discussion on shoe horns made by Robert Mindum. A similar horn but larger is ilustrated and another in York Castle Museum is discussed. The full inscription in the illustrated comparative example reads THIS IS RICHARD CRABS SHOE IN HORNE MADE BY THE HAND OF ROBART MINDVM

The horn cup in the background (lot 103) is engraved with a hunting scene and inscribed C+WARING 1825
4in. (10cm.)

Sotherby’s sold one dated 1598 in New York in 2007 as LOT 126 of their Calebration of the English Country House sale. The catalogue has a downloadable pdf, but is otherwise a fairly dreadful Adobe Flash site that I can’t get a useable photo from. Interestingly, this one features red lines as well as the more common black.

Lot Description

A RARE ELIZABETHAN ENGRAVED HORN SHOE HORN BY ROBART MINDAM, DATED 1598 of typical form, the outer edge engraved ROBART MINDUM MADE THIS SHOING HORNE FOR ROSE FALES ANNO DOMINI 1598, the inscription enclosing panels engraved with a Tudor rose beneath a crown, a band of guilloche, a spray of leaves and a panel of cross hatching and lozenges, the engraving retaining some of the original black and red rubbedin mastic, the end pierced for a cord, the surface of a rich cream color with black-brown markings. length 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)

Catalogue Note

This rare shoe horn is one of a very small number which were made by this craftsman. Bearing various dates between 1593 and 1612 all appear to be made from white ox horn, the raw horn firstly being cut in two along its natural curve. The pieces were then heated over a flame until the natural material was pliable enough for it to be placed in a shaped vice until cooled. The horn was then polished and, as in the present example engraved, the decoration being accentuated by rubbing in various colors.

All craftsmen in horn would have first served an apprenticeship before joining The Worshipful Company of Horners, a guild which had its origins in the eighth century, its members originally being a member of a group of agricultural guilds known as Frith Guilds. The word guild is derived from the Anglo-Saxon gildan or gildare meaning to pay and is a reference to the contribution expected from each person towards a common fund. The first recorded reference to the actual Horner’s Company was in 1284, a later document from fifteenth century indicating that an Act was passed forbidding any information on the development of uses of horn to be handed on to anyone outside England. It is however clear from the records indicating a flourishing export trade that this was not adhered to.

Little is known of the career of Robart Mindum, who was presumably a guild member, other than his surviving signed work. An article by Joan Evans in the Burlington Magazine, November, 1944, records a small group of shoe horns signed by him variously dated and inscribed between the years 1593 and 1612. The owners of these include: Hamlet Radesdale Stetson ‘the coupar of London’, 1593, ‘Wylam Rownyns’, 1594, ‘Richard Crabs’, 1595, ‘John Gybson’, 1597, ‘Ambres Buckells’, 1598, ‘Mattthew Westfeldes’, 1600, ‘Willyam Morris’, 1601, ‘Bridget Dearsley’, 1605 and another dated 1612 pf which the inscription has been erased. Joan Evans also records two other shoe horns of which she has no details and also a powder horn dated 1601.
The Burlington Magazine,
November 1944, ‘Shoe Horns and a Powder Flask by Robert Mindum’, Joan Evans
Paula Hardwick, Discovering Horn, Guildford, 1981, p. 62

By way of contrast here is one I’ve mentioned in another post on another blog, but is such a nice piece that it is worth publishing again. It came from a private home in East Anglia and was sold by Rowley Fine Art in Ely in 2010 for an undisclosed amount. According to Eely People, “The shoe horn was made for a Mistress Blake in 1612 by a known maker called Robert Mindum who beautifully inscribed it with a Tudor Rose design…”

Mindum 1612 Blake

Cora Ginsberg Gallery has a full description of this one at their website. There’s a few older references that I’d love to follow up if anyone has any details.

In the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Second Series, vol. vii. pp. 121-2 (1877), Sir John Evans publishes notes on

three shoe-horns bearing dates 1593, 1600, and 1604, and inscriptions showing that they were made by one “Robart Mindum”.  Another, in the Saffron Walden Museum, is inscribed round the edge, ” Robart Mindum made this shooing-horn for Bridget Dearsley, 1605.” The decorations are carried out in dots and incised lines, into which some dark substance has been worked. The crowned Tudor rose is the principal ornament employed in the last specimen.

And in The Antiquary (Volume 27) (1893):

Mr. Hartshorne exhibited a shoe-horn carved by Robert Mindum, dated 1598, and an apple-scoop carved in cherrywood, dated 1682 ; Sir J. Evans exhibited a powder horn and two shoe-horns, also carved by Robert Mindum ; and Mr. Harding, through the secretary, exhibited a German shoe-horn of unusual size, engraved with the story of the Prodigal Son.

The catalogue of the Exhibition of the Royal House of Tudor in Regent Street, London (1890) has:

981i ENGRAVED SHOE HORN, 1600. By Robert Mindum. Lent by JOHN EVANS, ESQ., P.S.A.
ENGRAVED POWDER HORN, 1601. By Robert Mindum. Lent by JOHN EVANS, ESQ., P.S.A.

which I assume are the same items he later displayed to the Society of Antiquaries in 1983.

The Burlington Magazine Vol. 85, No. 500, Nov., 1944 has an article by Joan Evans showing eight horns and a powder flask made between 1593 and 1612. It appears to be a reasonably complete list but only has one from 1593 and is missing the 1613 horn that is at the end of my other post.

One thought on “Another Mindum Shoehorn or two

  1. Pingback: This is starting to look obsessive but… « The Reverend's Big Blog of Leather

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